A devotional by pastor and businessman Monge, author of another devotional and a spiritual autobiography.
Monge (Dancing with God, 2012, etc.) suffers from crippling clinical depression. As an expression of his faith, which has given him the strength to live, he has penned a devotional based on the Gospel of Mark, his favorite biblical book. Monge’s work follows a familiar pattern established in the 15th century by Thomas à Kempis, who wrote The Imitation of Christ, the most famous Christian book of inspirational commentary. Like Kempis’ book, the author’s devotional presents short chapters that summarize an abbreviated reading from the Bible followed by an opportunity for reflection and prayer. The author instructs his readers to consider each chapter after reading relevant sections of the Bible. Written in a simple, straightforward way, Monge’s book often details incidents from his own life to illuminate the chapters’ messages. The author has been studying Mark since 1965, and he brings a wealth of biblical scholarship to his enterprise. The other Gospels, the author contends, were all based on Mark, which served as a “primary source, plus there was another group of sayings called the Quelle, which in German means ‘source.’” Monge often offers historical or linguistic asides that contribute to his discussion. The author’s struggle with the demons of depression provides the emotional center for this devotional work, and he styles himself as a perseverant believer. He contemplated suicide, but his faith, despite the turmoil of his personal life, has brought him through. He writes that Jesus sat beside him “in Hell” and helped him through those dark times. Neither maudlin nor self-indulgent, the chapters reveal the author as a humble, devoted Christian practitioner who exhorts readers to realize their faith. “It is daily contact with God…,” Monge writes, “which causes the gradual transformation into a faith that is real.”
A devoted Christian offers the fruits of faith and daily practice in a book intended to serve as a constant reminder of the presence of Jesus in everyday life.